The Jackson Wink MMA Academy is considered to be one of the top MMA camps in the world. Boasting big names like Jon Jones, Holly Holm, BJ Penn and many others, the MMA camp is a dream destination for upcoming fighters.
Indian fighter Siddharth Chandanshive was no different. The Lightweight fighter from Maharashtra cemented his place in Indian MMA through Super Fight League and holds an impressive record of 5-1. What sets apart Siddharth from a majority of the Indian fighters out there is the fact that he was fortunate enough to spend some quality time at Jackson Wink.
Siddharth is now back at the Superhuman Gym in Mumbai after his stay in the United States. The Fan Garage's Ratish Menon managed to catch up with him for an exclusive interview. Here is what he had to say.
Choosing MMA as a career
I got my start in wrestling in Nashik where I used to train. Alongside that, I have also competed at the national level in Boxing and state level in Judo, rounding up my game for the sport of MMA. I had chanced upon Bharat Khandare on TV once and through a common friend, got in touch with him to let him know that I too was looking to pursue MMA.
He told me that I need to win a few contender fights to be able to get into MMA professionally. That's how I fought my first two fights in Nashik itself and got my start in MMA.
Before that, I was always keen on MMA as in the gym itself, when they would have MMA classes I would follow it as I was too young to participate. But I knew that MMA was something I would like to pursue when I would get the right kind of opportunity.
It wasn't a hard transition as SFL (Super Fight League) was in the news as India's big MMA export to the world. Plus I was always into sports and so, I had all the encouragement and support from the people who mattered.
Difference between training in the United States and training in India
The biggest difference for me has been the attitudes. InIndia, it is very common to see fighters not wanting to share techniques or learning due to varied reasons such as jealousy, insecurities etc. However, in my time overseas, big name fighters would come to me and share techniques and point out my mistakes and help me work on it.
Even the coaches are extremely professional and advanced, who have great knowledge of techniques that is unheard of in India and may remain that way (laughs).
The people involved in the sport there are extremely nice and the fighters have a sense of brotherhood which I feel isn't the case necessarily in India.
The experience at Jackson Wink
It was a great experience overall. The gym didn't just become the name it is today by accident. You have some of the very best in the game involved there, be it the top UFC fighters and fighters from other promotions such as One Championships, with whom I got to train.
The mix of knowledge they have in there, be it the fighters from the USA and the rest of the world, it was extremely helpful for me.
Sparring with UFC Stars
I was extremely fortunate that I got to share the facility with legends and top names in the sport. I got to spar with Holly Holm, did wrestling sessions with Jon Jones, sparred kickboxing with B J Penn and Diego Sanchez among others.
One of the things I also observed was that when a fighter is doing his training camp for an upcoming fight, he gets the maximum attention from the coaches at the gym who spend entire days with the fighter to work on his game.
The changes that he made to his game
Firstly, my stand-up game was zero before I went to Jackson-Wink. Going there, I learnt a ton of techniques that helped me with my stand-up, but not in a way that would change my style completely. It was done in a way where it complements my takedown-heavy game the way it is.
About his next fight
I am eager to fight and show off my newly learned skills for the fans. My next fight is set for October 15th, the details of which will be revealed shortly. Also, I wouldn't be fighting under the SFL banner anymore.
Growth of MMA in India
It will be huge under the right circumstances. With cricket, the popularity is because it is a team of players representing India at the international level. The same way, for MMA to grow popular, it will need an Indian MMA fighter to represent the country in the UFC.
Indian Fighters that we should watch out for
Bharat Khandare is someone to watch out for. Sumeet Khade is another fighter who had accompanied me in my time at Jackson-Wink. He is another fighter to watch out for, with great stand-up skills.
Siddharth wrapped up the conversation by wishing the TFG MMA fans a Happy Ganesh Chathurthi!